Book review: Theatre of Silence


Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football : By Matthew Bazell

First published : 2008

ISBN : 978 1 903490 32 7

Score out of 5 :

This was a book that promised much – I was expecting a good rant about the current state of the beautiful game. Alas, it was an opportunity missed. Matthew Bazell, the Millwall-loving Arsenal fan, could have laid it out so much better – he had plenty of facts and good research – but too often went for cheap jokes, cringeworthy jokes as it happens.

When Bazell does get serious, he makes good, pertinent points. Reading the following paragraph, you have to wonder if Bazell has a crystal ball beside his writing desk (this was written before the current recession, and the tragi-comic demise of the likes of Portsmouth and Crystal Palace), for he is 100% bang on the money here:

There is something that hasn’t happened in Britain during the years of the Premier League, in which football should fear happening again in the future. It’s something that has happened many times before and is something that will no doubt happen again one day – especially in a country in which millions of people are living in debt. The thing I’m referring to is a recession. A wider economic recession within the country could seriously harm football in a way that it never has done before. In the past, football has survived these hard times for two very simple reasons:

1. The game was affordable entertainment. Therefore people could still attend matches even when undergoing hardship.

2. The players’ wages were not high enough to burden the club.

Now the opposite is true for both player wages and admission prices. A wider economic recession is a reality that is unavoidable. We don’t know when it will happen, or how bad it will be, but history proves that at some point in the future, our country will face some very hard times. The last time we fell on these times was in the early 1990s, around the same time that Premier League was being formed. during a recession, people will not spend such crazy money to watch football when they are struggling to pay off the bills, the mortgage or the rent. So the consequence for football could very well be half-empty stadiums and players on wage bills higher than the club’s weekly revenues. Who will envy the Premier League then?

If only he could have written more of this – it’s brilliant punditry. I won’t copy some of his jokes here, you can read them for yourself, but they ruin the good stuff. The main problem then is that Bazell can’t decide if he’s writing a serious or fun sideswipe at football’s elite, and boy do they need a serious savaging. It’s worth a read, but could have been so much better


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